setting up a small network

  toga 21:17 19 Mar 05

I would like to network 5 machines and one laptop and share data from a database (all machines need access simtaniously). What is the best way to go about this?

The laptop is using XP Pro.
The 5 machines are using Win 98.
All machines have network cards/connections which are not in use. I have no cabling yet and the machines will be located in two rooms.

Would a peer to peer network sufice and could I nominate one machine as a server to handle the database?

Or would it be better to upgrade the machines to XP and use a ethernet hub/switch and possibly a central server?

Finally how would anti virus software and spyware etc. be deployed?

Many thanks

  Forum Editor 00:18 20 Mar 05

all the machines to Windows XP. Assuming all the computers have the database application installed you can simply select one of them as the computer on which all data will be stored. This machine should have a reasonably fast processor and plenty of RAM.

If the computers are spread over two rooms you might consider using a wireless router to save cabling, although this would mean buying wireless adapters for them all. If cost is a major consideration go for cabling and a hub.

  LastChip 01:58 20 Mar 05

It will make little difference to the network whether you upgrade or not. You would use the TCP/IP protocol in either and nothing has changed in that respect.

I have a five machine network here at home, ranging from Win 95, to Linux to XP (and most in between) and they all talk together happily!

Certainly, I would go with a hub (switch) solution, but again, whether you decide on peer to peer or a server configuration, really depends on what you want to achieve, and how secure you want the system to be. It is this last respect, where XP Professional would be considerably better than Win 98, which is an inherently insecure system. But of course, it's going to cost you five XP Pro licences.

Unless there are major problems for cabling, I would always go for a hard wired network and if it is new, you might as well take the latest Gigabit standard, which will not only be blazingly fast, but future proof you to some degree as well. The Premium for a five machine network would not be considerable.

Total cost for equipment probably in the region of £200 - £250 plus any labour you may incur. If you went for the slower option, probably about £50 less. Wireless of course would be more expensive and non of this includes those XP licences!

  FelixTCat 15:56 20 Mar 05

I would suggest that you had wire the network,with a hub or router in each room. That way, you only have to run one cable between the two rooms. It would also allow you to use the laptop in either room.

You do not say if you have an internet connection for any or all of the computers. Once they are all wired, you could easily connect them all to the internet for email, etc.

  toga 19:43 20 Mar 05


I do have an internet connection, will a server and switch option be the best solution; with all machines accessing the internet via the server?

  FelixTCat 21:20 20 Mar 05

Yes, that would do very well. As has been said earlier, you could either hard-wire the pcs in the same room as the router and connect the others by wireless, or you could hard-wire them all.

My recommendation would be to get a modem router (an adsl modem router if you are on broadband) and hard wire those pcs in the same room, run one ethernet cable to a hub in the second room and hard-wire the pcs in the second room. Make sure there will be enough spare ports in each room to connect the laptop by ethernet cable.

Of course, if you are the boss, the laptop is yours and you want to run it whilst sitting in the conservatory sipping a mint julep, wireless is the way to go!

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